I tried to play tennis a couple of times, in days gone by.
I remember going to the Dilmun Club one ludicrously warm evening and sweating profusely, breathing in noxious horse-related smells and missing the ball for much of the time.
Of course, my opponent was not only able to beat me soundly, but seemed to accomplish this with the minimum of effort and hardly broke sweat.
But my word, I love watching tennis. Especially Wimbledon.
There is something so very English about it all.
Even the jaunty music played on the BBC evokes a sort of summery, outdoorsy feeling.
By the way, the music – light and tuneful – was composed by Keith Mansfield just over 40 years ago and is, at least to me, one of the most recognisable tunes on the telly.
Start to hum it and people will not only join in, but tell you that it’s the Wimbledon theme music.
I watched Rafael Nadal playing some unfortunate soul, a Japanese chap called Yuichi Sugita, who was soundly thrashed in three sets.
Rafael certainly can sweat, though. He was producing more sweat than I had back at the Dilmun Club.
Then again, he was actually winning. Which is the point, I suppose.
It was also announced that the famous British player Andy Murray (have you noticed that he only becomes Scottish when he is losing) is going to play mixed doubles with Serena Williams.
That’s a not-to-be-missed match if ever I anticipated one.
Anyway, Wimbledon rules in our house at this time of year and it all becomes a little bit silly.
All the paraphernalia is used: bowls of strawberries and cream, fizz and a lexicon which is only ever deployed during the first two weeks of July (at least by ‘she who must be obeyed’ and myself).
As an example, we use expressions such as “drop volley” and “cross-court winner” freely and knowledgeably.
I cannot think of another time when I use these same words juxtaposed in this way.
We even use the word “let” as if we understand it.
I hate to tell you that we really don’t know where the word comes from at all.
Why not say “net”?
It seems the umpire says “let” when the ball hits the net. Perhaps someone can enlighten us?
It is the whole thing though, isn’t it? The mandatory white clothing, the arcane language, the formality of it all, the polite crowds, the grunting players, the sun hats, the new cover on number one court.
I love the absurdly hopeful build-up of the BBC commentators when discussing the British players’ chances.
This British talent is hyped and discussed endlessly and proceeds to crash out by the second round.
There’s even the strange behaviour of a player or two.
It used to be John McEnroe, but this year it seems to be an Australian chap, Nick something-or-other, who is generating much heated discussion over the Veuve Cliquot.
When all of that is coupled with the opportunity to be an armchair expert for a brief moment, it is quite simply unbeatable.